The death metal resurgence of the last five years has birthed an ever-expanding spectrum of styles collecting under the genre’s umbrella. Slower and mid-paced death metal has typically been the road for American bands lately—at least those adhering to the original ideals and not the modern tech-mech bastardization that the more stubborn among us choose to ignore. But the American scene has been severely lacking in bands that play the fast ’n’ loose style at which the original US bands were most adept.
Enter Bone Sickness, who, after releasing a demo tape and an EP on Detest Records, now offers up their debut 12-inch Alone in the Grave. Bone Sickness are local to Olympia, WA (also the HQ of 20 Buck Spin) and have the relentless energy and ferocity of a young band that’s lived their lives in a smaller American town away from big-city trends. Not having the luxury of performing at city venues on a regular basis, the band cut their teeth in the Oly punk scene playing as many house shows with non-metal bands as they have clubs opening for “name” bands. The maelstrom of death metal savagery Bone Sickness conjures on Alone in the Grave recalls Repulsion’s Horrified LP and early Master / Deathstrike recordings, and exhumes Napalm Death when still commanded by domineering, barbaric drummer Mick Harris. No Incantation worship or goats ’n’ gasmasks posing; just American death metal disfigured by grindcore.
Alone in the Grave represents a new turn (or return) to death metal played with reckless abandon and spontaneity rather than cold, controlled calculation. It’s about time. Keeping in that spirit, the record’s breakneck pace does its work over seven songs in 20 minutes; a perfect length that demands repeated, consecutive spins. Alone in the Grave is adorned with artwork of total dementia from the perma-fried pen of Hand of Beaver, the resident art director of the oft-copied, never duplicated legendary heavy metal magazine Chips & Beer—a cover that can be stared at throughout the record’s length, constantly revealing ghastly new detail.